The theme for this year’s International Day of Persons with Disabilities, commemorated every year on Dec. 3, is Leadership and participation of persons with disabilities toward an inclusive, accessible, and sustainable post-COVID-19 world.
The International Day of Persons with Disabilities was established in 1992 by the United Nations General Assembly as an occasion to highlight the fact that many persons with disabilities continue to experience physical, educational, social, technological, communicative and attitudinal barriers in accessing work, study and social spaces, profoundly affecting their ability to reach their full potential.
These experiences of (in)accessibility were more clearly evident during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Dec. 3 also offers an opportunity to celebrate the accomplishments and progress that individuals with disabilities, disability communities and accessibility communities have made in advocating for accessibility and equity.
McMaster-related examples of disability and accessibility community-driven work, accomplishments, advocacy, scholarship and more can be found in past versions of the Annual Accessibility and Disability-Inclusion Update.
To commemorate and celebrate Dec. 3, campus and community partners, including the Equity and Inclusion AccessMac Program, the MacPherson Institute, the PACBIC DIMAND Working Group, MSU Maccess, the Employee Accessibility Network and the Faculty of Science are working to co-organize and/or co-sponsor a two-week lineup of events and training, from Nov. 29 to Dec. 8.
Events will engage in topics surrounding digital and social media accessibility, assistive technology use and applications and accessibility in teaching and learning design and delivery.
There will additionally be an event on Dec. 1 from 12:30 p.m. to 1:30 p.m., open to McMaster community members who identify as having a disability, chronic health conditions, and/or disability-related accommodation to celebrate, check in and debrief themes and events for Dec. 3.
An additional disability-inclusion initiative being highlighted this year is the publication of a new zine, Outliers: Teaching & Learning Beyond the Norms, which aims to enrich debates and initiatives in student mental health.
Curated by the MacPherson Institute’s Disability Zine Team, this 72-page issue amplifies the voices of over 25 Mad(ness)-identified, neurodivergent and disabled student and alumni contributors from Canada (including 12 from McMaster), the United States and Belgium.
Various meanings and experiences of being an “outlier” in post-secondary education come alive in the zine through collage, drawing, painting, photography, poetry, song and stories that call on post-secondary institutions and instructors to enhance accessibility, Mad Positivity and respect for neurodiversity in teaching and learning.